Alternative Energy (Solar/Wind)/candle VS light bulb


Jikki wrote at 2008-03-05 05:32:56
That doesn't answer the question of whether it is more ecologically friendly. It takes quite a lot of energy to make a light bulb, and what I think he person was whether it is more ecologically friendly to use a single candle, or a 60W light bulb (incandescent or otherwise). I honestly don't know the figures, but I'm curious to actually see the numbers.

tim s. wrote at 2008-03-29 14:26:50
I appreciated Mark Looper's careful analysis of the cost of candle vs light bulb. But then when he goes on to promote CFLs, he left out the analysis of the cost of disposal. A regular light bulb can be thrown away in a landfill without much worry - its components are mostly harmless and will degrade within the natural cycle of minerals etc. There are currently no widespread means for proper disposal of CFLs. Since they contain up to 5 milligrams of toxic mercury they should NEVER be thrown away. They must be disposed of by a qualified hazardous waste facility. Good luck finding one in your area... Anyway, the cost of disposing of these CFLs really should be factored in.

Thanks for a good discussion....

Benjamin U wrote at 2009-01-18 18:20:41
A tall "vigil" style candle costs $1.39-$1.79 and is made to last for a full seven days when lit 24 hours per day.  That's 168 hours of use per candle - a far cry from 10 hours per candle.

Spider wrote at 2009-12-30 09:29:11
Wow... i just thought of this question myself, was sitting on my deck smoking a cigarette, looking in the kitchen at some candles my wife has as on display.. we never use them,

but after reading up on which is cheaper... you would think that our great grand parents where spending wastfull amounts of energy ($$$) at unbelievable costs ($$$) to light their homes in the past.. now we have cheap and costless energy.. yet we still complain about the price of gas... i dunno, just a brain fart i guess. Soon enough we will worry about the price of food more than energy! Its a small planet.

Jebediah Springfield wrote at 2013-01-12 00:04:45
As Benjamin U mentions there are other candle options out there. Vigil candles are one, tealight candles are another.  If one bargain hunts carefully, candles can be obtained that have a $/(burn hour) of about 1 penny per burn hour.  2 pennies per burn hour is easily realizable.  As Mark Looper mentions there is definitely a concern about quality of light for one candle vs one light bulb, but the pricing is not quite as bad as outlined.

Alternative Energy (Solar/Wind)

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Mark D. Looper


I am most familiar with alternative motor vehicle fuels (electricity, natural gas, alcohols, etc.), and am best prepared to answer questions with a practical, end-user focus. I can also discuss technical aspects at a "hobbyist" (rather than professional) level, and am somewhat familiar with alternative energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) for applications other than the transportation market. I am not all that well versed in the economics or policy aspects of the subject, except as they affect end users (prices at the pump, tax incentives); and I am _definitely_ not the person to ask for help in promoting a 100-MPG Super-Atomo carburetor or a "free energy" machine!


I have owned natural-gas-powered trucks since 1993, and in 1998 I began promoting alternative fuels by means of a website ( and a journey "Clean Across America And Back," from Los Angeles to Maine and back in my natural-gas-powered van. Since then I have kept up with new vehicles available for sale or lease and with other developments in the field, and have posted occasional reports to the website on auto shows, alternative-fuel events, or vehicle road tests.

Most of my "publication" effort has been focused on the website,, that I mentioned above; I have also written a number of letters to my local newspaper, and (especially in connection with "Clean Across America And Back") have been quoted in that and several other newspapers, TV news reports, alternative-fuel publications, etc.

A.B. (1985) from Princeton University, M.S. (1989) and Ph.D. (1993) from the California Institute of Technology; my degrees were all in Physics, so I have a technical background, but no specific training in alternative energy.

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